ARABIAN HORSE WORLD L E G E N D. L I F E . L U X U R Y.
Al Ghanayim Stud
by Jeffrey Wintersteen Photos by Mohammad Aladwani and QCPTV-Kuwait It is well past midnight when I leave Kuwait International Airport. I can see the lights of the city briefly before turning south towards the Saudi border. Soon there is nothing but the darkness of the desert, occasionally interrupted by headlights heading the other direction. My driver Ahmad slows at a sign for Al Wafra and we turn off the main highway. It is an area populated by family farms, and it’s becoming a favored escape from city life in the winter and a place to spend some time outdoors. Soon the sand-colored walls of Al Ghanayim Stud come into view. It is my second time to visit this 11-hectare equine paradise, and I am very pleased to return. My first visit was a couple years ago, and I was not sure what to expect. Shawn Crews of Shawn Crews International wanted me to meet Ayad Al-Thuwainy. Shawn and I come from different backgrounds in horses, Shawn grew up with Straight Egyptians and I had worked for the Polish State Studs, but we share a passion for great Arabians, regardless of the strain. I first came at her request, and found in this corner of Kuwait a man whose vision for the Arabian horse needed to be shared. I am even more excited to return a few years later and see the progress of his vision, and enjoy the tranquility in the mare paddocks during an evening stroll. Here at the farm, the stallions are ridden daily, because Ayad understands the utility of these animals. As someone who grew up exercising my family’s Arabians on the track, it resonates with me. And then there are the foals: balanced, correct, beautiful, and… black. Ayad’s Al Ghanayim Stud is unique in the world, and is poised to challenge some long held preconceptions in the Arabian breed. A L G H A N AY I M S T U D > 1 < W O R L D
uring Ayad Al-Thuwainy’s youth, Black Beauty and The Black Stallion stories made an indelible impression on him, one he carries with him today in his love of black Arabians. “The color black is an integral element in the total vision I have for breeding Arabian horses. My goals are not complete with out it,” explains Ayad with an infectious smile. “I don’t buy into the idea that those who incorporate color into their breeding decisions are not serious breeders. Color is a trait, just like a dished face or longer neck. In addition, the color black lends itself to several key and much needed attributes of the breed, such as dark pigment, black feet and dark eyes without white. I fully understand that what I aspire to accomplish as a breeder of world class Straight Egyptians, as well as non-Egyptians of this rare color, is a lofty goal.” Ayad, having been enormously successful in his trading and construction business endeavors, is well qualified for the enormity of such a task; he has the resources and the passion. “I probably chose the most challenging type and color of horses to breed, but this is my passion: to own and breed the best black Arabians anywhere in the world. This is also where I see my niche in the industry.” The first logical step in Ayad’s goal was to assemble the best black breeding stock that he could find. He quickly realized two inherent problems: quality black Arabians are very hard to find, and when he did find them, they were not for sale. Ayad devoted hours of research on his own, and, when warranted, asked others for help. “I began my search for these types of horses, but the first challenge was finding them. Shawn Crews was able to help in this regard. I would ask Shawn ‘Where have you seen a really good quality black mare or stallion?’ She would say, ‘I know so and so’ and I would go and knock on their door,” explains Ayad laughing. “Really, this is how it happened, the best horses were not on the market. You know, it wasn’t easy!”
Previous page: Jameela Bint Bellagio (Bellagio RCA x Binte Nafila RCA). Above: The stallion Samir Ali (Bellagio RCA x Barakis Gem) in traditional Arabian tack. Opposite page: Mr. Ayad Al-Thuwainy with daughter Ghaneema.
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Ayad, however was armed with a potent weapon, his genuine charm and likeable nature. His gentle approach with these reluctant owners eventually led to prized black horses heading to Al Ghanayim. “Honestly, at first I just established a friendship and trust with them. When we eventually got to the topic of parting with their horse, it took a lot of convincing. Their first consideration was always: Where is the horse going? How they would be taken care of? And how would they be bred? This was always discussed before any other aspect like price.” Ayad adds, “I made sure these owners knew they would always be welcome to come to see how they are cared for. I understand, it was their ‘baby’ that they were willing to part with on such a basis. At the end of the day, we become fast friends and they will always be a part of them as well.”
“I don’t buy into the idea that those who incorporate color into their breeding decisions are not serious breeders. Color is a trait, just like a dished face or longer neck.” ~A yad A l-Thuwainy
Opposite page: Ameera Bint Bellagio (Bellagio RCA x Queen A Hearts RCA).
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Shawn agrees that it is Ayad’s connection with these owners and what he is trying to build that gives him an opportunity not afforded to others. “Not just anyone would be trusted with these kind of horses,” explains Shawn. “We are talking a handful of the most rarely bred Thee Desperado daughters, three of Mishaal HP’s finest and a number of Bellagio RCA’s very best offspring. Breeders like Judy Sirbasku of Arabians Ltd. don’t part with these often, and
when they do it is only for one reason; they know they will live a fantastic life and will be bred with a serious vision for the future of the breed. I sensed it in every bone in my body, that these are happy, secure, content and healthy horses. They are in perfect weight with amazing coats and the foals are as much in love with their people as they are with their mothers. Visiting my longtime horse friends, and their new foals, was a joy, it does not get better than this.”
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Above: Mishaala Belle RCA (Mishaal HP x Desperados Belle RCA by Thee Desperado). Opposite page: The mare paddocks at Al Ghanayim Stud.
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Like his success in business, Ayad approached the acquisition of breeding stock in a thoughtful, methodical and two-stage approach; the first is drawing to a close. “Since we began there have been many advances. We are very happy where we are today, and we know where we are headed. Our vision and philosophy has not changed since the beginning,” explains Ayad. “We started with Straight Egyptians, which was a real challenge, especially if you are talking about just blacks! Today, I believe I am the biggest owner and breeder of Straight Egyptian blacks, especially of this quality and conformation.”
Top left: Ghaneemah Al Ghanayim (The Sequel RCA x Lady Fa Moniet RCA). Opposite page: Ebonie Starr ( Justynn x Amer Baasma by Thee Desperado).
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Today Al Ghanayim’s broodmare band boasts 14 black Straight Egyptian mares along with 10 black Straight Egyptian stallions. There are also several black fillies bred by the stud that look extremely promising as future broodmares. The second stage of Ayad’s plan was the acquisition of non-Egyptians. “This is the next step, whether stallions or mares, in order to have those pedigrees as well,” says Ayad. “There are the two schools of breeding, Straight Egyptian and non-Egyptian Arabians. I understand both schools and I like and respect both schools of thought. I am committed to both.” A stellar example of Ayad’s non-Egyptian mares is the
black Eden C daughter Erianna FMA out of Sue Bees Honey by Rohara Samurai. The latest addition to Al Ghanayim Stud’s non-Egyptian program is the black stallion Jakhal Alfabia (ZT Marwteyn x ZT Magna Psyche by ZT Magnanimus) from Alfabia Stud in Italy. Ayad did not rely on agents or consultants to find him, but came upon this striking black stallion through his own research. “I found this beautiful stallion that had not been shown and few knew about. I was doing some research, and found his video. I didn’t know his age, where he was or even who owned him at the time. It turned out he was owned by my friend Gigi Grasso,” laughs Ayad.
Above: Ayad and Ghaneema with Erianna FMA (Eden C x Sue Bees Honey) and 2019 filly by Magic Black.
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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jakhal resembled this per fect horse I had in my mind. So after studying photos and videos, I went to see him in person.â&#x20AC;? ~Ayad Al-Thuwainy
Above: The stallion Jakhal Alfabia (ZT Marwteyn x ZT Magna Psyche by ZT Magnanimus).
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“Jakhal for me really means a lot,” Gigi explains, “because he comes from one of the best mares of Zichy-Thyssen, ZT Magna Psyche. She comes from the very special mare WN Obsession who is found in the pedigrees of a lot of world champions. She has really big eyes and a long neck. ZT Magna Psyche is also the dam of Balada Al Alfabia by EKS Alihandro who was Bronze World Champion Filly. Myself, I don’t breed for color, but I love Jakhal.” At the time, Jakhal Alfabia was on lease to Marieta Salas of Ses Planes Stud in Majorca, Spain. Marieta has a sterling reputation as a breeder including World Champions Abha Qatar and Abha Palma, along with Reserve World Champion Abha Qalams. Jakhal Alfabia has also been on lease to Ferdinand Huemer’s La Movida Arabians in Austria, who is the breeder of the stallion Lawrence El Gazal. This breeding resumé helps confirm Jakhal Alfabia’s quality, regardless of color, and strengthens Ayad’s decision to use him at Al Ghanayim. “For me it is about the quality of the horse first and of course, the color,” says Ayad. “What captured me about Jakhal is that I was looking for that particular stallion, a stallion that embodies a dream, a type of horse I wish to breed,” continues Ayad. “Jakhal resembled this perfect horse I had in my mind. So after studying photos and videos, I went to see him in person. I was very lucky to convince Gigi to part with him, and lucky to have him as an addition. Jakhal is young, so he will bring value for many years. We will cross him on both Egyptian and non-Egyptian horses to see how he sires, it is something we are really looking forward to.”
Marwan Al Shaqab ZT Marwteyn ZT Ludjteyna Jakhal Alfabia ZT Magnanimus ZT Magna Psyche WN Obsession
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Gazal Al Shaqab Little Liza Fame Ludjin El Jamaal Shahteyna AB Magnum ZT Shakmontelite Padrons Psyche WN Obession
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jakhal for me really means a lot because he comes from one of the best mares of Zichy-Thyssen, ZT Magna Psyche. She comes from the very special mare WN Obsession who is found in the pedigrees of a lot of world champions.â&#x20AC;? ~ Gigi Grasso
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Above: The elegant sitting room at the Al-Thuwainy family home on the farm.
Jakhal Alfabia, having fulfilled his lease with Ses Planes, now resides with Giacamo Capacci Arabians in Italy. “We will start with breeding him, that is the priority, but he may be shown at some point in the future,” explains Ayad. “Actually, he must be shown, with the beauty he has, definitely. He is definitely a show horse, not just a breeding horse.” Shawn believes it is Ayad’s open mind that gives him such a decided advantage going forward. “It is fascinating to watch someone who has all these different ideas and opinions coming at them sift through the quagmire of information and in the end, with a noted confidence, come up with a vision and
direction,” explains Shawn. “The first step for Ayad was a foundation of Straight Egyptians. He chose a bloodline that was not wildly popular in his country, for the core of his Straight Egyptian program and the crosses he plans to breed. That plan is also to breed remarkable non-Egyptian Arabians, which has been done before but never to my knowledge so methodically from a base of such extraordinary Straight Egyptians. Make no mistake, Ayad weighs his choices regarding purchases and breeding decisions carefully, as if it were checkmate in a chess game, all of which makes the addition of Jakhal to the program and long term plan really exciting.”
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Another aspect that shapes Ayad’s views on horses and breeding is the performance side. Ayad’s first experience as a youth was at the racetrack, and this form-to-function ideal has stayed with him. In addition, his daughters Ghaneema and Ghizlan train in dressage and hunter jumper, which Ayad sees as an advantage. “They have learned all the basics and correct riding to give them a good background,” explains Ayad. “They have a passion for this and hopefully they will help
me with breeding in the future. Ultimately, this is why beauty was not the only consideration. We want to enhance the breed in all aspects, not just beauty, but conformation, legs, feet, and even character. And not just color, of course, but the color along with all of these things, otherwise there is no use.” His son Ahmed has also developed a love of the horses, and wants to spend as much time as possible there.
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Above: The stallions are ridden almost daily, and their stalls are spacious with attached runs. Below: Ghizlan and all the Al-Thuwainy children enjoy being active with the horses.
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2019 fillies sired by Al Rali RV, at right, Black filly out of Thee Bint Lotus Capri (by Thee Desperado), and below, Black filly out of Bint Bellagio. Opposite page bottom: Al Rali RV (Baha AA x Doubay YA).
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â&#x20AC;&#x153;We want to enhance the breed in all aspects, not just beauty, but conformation, legs, feet, and even character.â&#x20AC;? ~ Ayad Al-Thuwainy
Above: Abjar Al Ghanayim (Bellagio RCA x Kavetas Miracle RCA by Thee Desperado). Opposite page: Samir Ali (Bellagio RCA x Barakis Gem by Al Baraki).
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After the search for foundation breeding stock, it is the breeding aspect of Al Ghanayim that is most important for Ayad. With two foal crops on the ground, we are starting to get a glimpse of the potential of the horses that have been assembled at Al Ghanayim. “I am very pleased about the quality of the breeding in general,” says Ayad. “The most important black foal bred by Al Ghanayim so far is a colt, and I am very proud of him, Abjar Al Ghanayim (Bellagio RCA x Kavetas Miracle RCA). He is my first really correct black colt that have I bred. When we purchased Kavetas, I had her bred to Bellagio. We continue to learn, and this year was
better than last year. I am getting a better idea of how we can improve in the future, how we can enhance the results. While both years we had a great foal crop, year two made it more special in that I got more blacks, I feel more proud when I see blacks coming.” “This second foal crop is exceptional,” confirms Shawn. “Like Ayad, I am always thinking five years ahead, and what these will produce when they are older. I just can’t wait to see how it unfolds. Now you have so many generations of excellence, whatever color it may be, the genetics of the blacks that Ayad selected are truly special.”
Quality, and of course color, is always on Ayad’s mind. This year he is averaging forty percent black foals, which is many times above the norm. “Really, it is not easy to get a black of quality, even if you have two quality black horses. My black and bay mares give me more of a chance for blacks from my experience so far.” Ayad has not limited his broodmare band to just blacks. When he sees some exceptional mares that can contribute, such as the exquisite grey mares Mishaala Belle RCA (Mishaal HP x Desperados Belle RCA) or Maram Aljazira (Al Kidir x RN Marwa by Ansata Halim Shah), he adds them to the program. Another aspect that should pay dividends in Al Ghanayim’s breeding program is their use of technology, specifically embryo transfer. “We have chosen some of our best mares to start with
this year, regardless of color,” explains Ayad. This technology is incredibly important to Ayad’s larger strategy. “I want to see the multiplier. I don’t want to wait an entire year to see what the mares will produce from each stallion. By using the multiplier of embryo transfer I can increase the production by three times,” he says. Shawn has an appreciation of Ayad’s goals, and keen understanding of how it manifests itself in the pedigrees that Ayad is trying to utilize. “All the way back to Egypt there are black ancestors in these pedigrees, not because they were chosen for color, but because black was naturally present. That said, it was rare to see black horses in Egypt because in the desert a lot of blacks didn’t survive. The heat was too difficult for them,” explains Shawn, “only the strong and well conformed ones survived.”
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Bint Faith RCA (Thee Desperado x RSL Faith) and Jazsara (AA-Dream x SH Sabia Barake). Opposite page: Amir Al Jood (Thee Desperado x Imaaras Alixir).
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Moving forward, the strong genetics of this foal crop, whether you breed those f illies to Egyptian or non-Egyptian stallions, will be a magic equation for excellence.â&#x20AC;? ~ Shawn Crews
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Above: Basmah Al Ghanayim, the 2018 filly out of Ebonie Starr and by GR Faleeh. Opposite page: GR Faleeh (Madallan-Madheen x Fasinah El Chamsin) the stunning black stallion purchased from breeder Annette Escher.
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l Ghanayim is pleased to announce that William Oppen will be joining the management team in 2020. “Willy,” as he is known, is a graduate of veterinary medicine from National University of North East, Argentina, and the Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business in the U.S. He began his work with Arabians at Count Zichy-Thyssen’s farm in Argentina. There, he was instrumental in establishing the stud’s breeding stock and developing facilities for the first frozen semen in Argentina. In 2002, Willy joined Al Shaqab Stud in Doha, Qatar, a global leader in breeding and promotion of the Arabian breed. Beyond just veterinary and management expertise, Willy is also an international judge, most recently at the All Nations Cup in Aachen, Germany. Al Ghanayim is very pleased to have the expertise and insights of this well-rounded horseman, and is looking forward to his contributions to this innovative stud.
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Above and below: Ayad always enjoys having guests at the farm including Lawrence, Shawn, Jeffrey, the video team from QCPTV-Kuwait, and photographer Mohammad.
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“Without being critical of other black programs,” continues Shawn, “what is unique about the blacks that Ayad is raising is that not only are they very beautiful, but they are exceptionally well-conformed. They have great legs, feet and strong bodies. They would be exceptional horses in any color. In addition, the black coloring is present many generations back. That’s what makes it so exciting to see these foal crops. We are seeing all the past generations come through. Moving forward, the strong genetics of this foal crop, whether you breed those fillies to Egyptian or non-Egyptian stallions, will be a magic equation for excellence.”
Above: Bint Bellagio (Bellagio RCA x Princess Hamamaa RCA by Thee Desperado).
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Above: Ajeeba Aldanat (Ezz Al Danat x Badrah Al Danat). Bottom left: Kareena Kamala SA (Kamal Ibn Adeed x Kareena RCA). Bottom right: Many of the mares are lifelong friends who love their pasture time together.
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The young stallions of Al Ghanayim Stud, below, Thee Masada DB (Thee Desperado x Makeda DB), and opposite page, Attimo (Bellagio RCA x Desperados Fatinah by Thee Desperado).
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But it is not just disproving misconceptions about blacks in the Arabian breed that could be Al Ghanayim’s contribution. “I think that the dark pigment of Ayad’s herd not only gives him an advantage, but can contribute to the Arabian breed as a whole,” says Shawn. “An issue within our breed is loss of pigment, and in my opinion, not only is it an undesirable trait, but it can be detrimental to the horses’ health. Also today we
see a lot of white in the eyes. This is something that the Egyptian strains in particular have a problem with. Other breeders could dip into this program’s genetics by purchasing a young colt or filly. I would not be surprised to see Ayad’s breeding program become a game changer in the larger scope of things. Ultimately that is what we all hope for, being able to contribute for long term good of the breed.”
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The sun begins to sink low over southern Kuwait, the sand colored walls of Al Ghanayim are bathed golden in the waning light. Early that morning, Shawn and I rushed to the garden stable before breakfast as the black mare, Alia Galal RCA (Alixir x Kiyasa RCA by Thee Desperado), had foaled a beautiful healthy black filly. At dinner, Ayad is anxious to hear what we think of her. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Whenever I get the news of a colt or filly being delivered, my first question is always, is it healthy? That is the most important question of all, but then I always ask what is the color?â&#x20AC;? says Ayad with a joyous laugh. There is little doubt that Ayad Al-Thuwainy charts his own course in the Arabian breed. We are all eager to see where it leads.
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